A large colony of pipistrelle bats lives on my house, and each year hundreds of female bats gather in one of the chimneys, warmed by the kitchen stove, to give birth and rear their young. One of my great summer pleasures is to see the mothers stream out of the chimney each night, emerging one by one to hunt until dawn. At this time of year the young are half grown and becoming playful, and I hear them sometimes as they scrabble in their roost and learn to climb; yesterday morning I checked that any small cracks or openings between the kitchen and also my office above were sealed to prevent any bat pups crawling through, but my work was not good enough, for I found a tiny bat sitting on the landing in mid-afternoon, in need of help.
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the baby bat[/caption]
It was a busy day for me yesterday, but ensuring the welfare of this creature, just an inch long, was more important than anything else. The next few hours were taken up with finding it a warm box and giving it water, and making many calls to bat charities and experts for support. Everyone who could have helped was away or unavailable, and advice was scarce until in the early evening an expert from the local wildlife trust suggested putting it outside later for its mother to find it; if she did not, I should care for it myself for a few weeks.
Hoping fervently that there would be a reunion, I did as she suggested and watched the little creature crawl up the shingles until I could see it no more. This morning I checked the walls and saw nothing untowards but noticed a tiny ball of fluff above my office window, just touchable – and it was a very cold, sad baby bat. It is back in its box now and I will do my best to nurse it to full size, though I know weaning it will be difficult. It may die in my care, but I have to try.
It was interesting that no-one was able to help me directly – normally a bat carer would have taken the bat away to rear it professionally: clearly it is my responsibility. The lessons? Acceptance, flexibility, compassion….and detachment. It is easy for me to become attached to animals in my care, and the reminder, through this little bat is good. Some may think it ugly, but I see it as beautiful!